Governor Polis announces new status in the state's COVID-19 dial framework; update for El Paso County

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Governor Polis just announced the addition of a new status, Level Purple: Extreme Risk, to the state's dial framework today. Level Purple: Extreme Risk includes Stay-at-Home restrictions and guidelines.

As of today, El Paso County remains at Level Orange: High Risk with a 25% capacity for most businesses. Level Orange: High Risk falls within the Safer-at-Home category. We your need your help in maintaining our current level and preventing us from moving to Level Red: Severe Risk or Level Purple: Extreme Risk, both of which are part of the Stay-at-Home category.

A note from Mayor Suthers
We remain hopeful that the restrictions we put in place less than two weeks ago will show a positive impact on our COVID-19 cases here in El Paso County and we are grateful that the State has given us time to show that our mitigation efforts are working. Please know that we can only retain this level if our local businesses and citizens step up their own personal efforts to stop the spread. We now have one infected person for every 100 people in the County. This is obviously not a sustainable rate and is putting our hospital capacity, our community health, and our economy at serious risk. We need to buckle down, eliminate gatherings with those outside of your households, social distance, and stay home whenever possible. The actions of each person can help save lives and save our economy.

A note from UCHealth

As of Tuesday morning, UCHealth hospitals statewide were caring for 333 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 infections – 300 more than what the health system saw just two short months ago, when the number was as low as 33 patients across all hospitals. Of the 333 patients in UCHealth’s care today, more than 105 are hospitalized in UCHealth’s southern Colorado region hospitals. This is nearly twice the number of hospitalizations over the previous peak, in April. UCHealth is grateful to our staff and their extraordinary commitment to patients during this time. More than 1,000 employees have volunteered to pick up extra shifts, and dozens of nurses who normally work in outpatient settings or other areas in the hospital are now helping in inpatient units. As we all know, the virus is spreading rapidly in the communities we serve, and we urge Coloradans to wash hands, wear masks, watch their distance from others and avoid gatherings. This is particularly important as we approach Thanksgiving.

A note from El Paso County Public Health
With our increased restrictions and aggressive measures being fully implemented in El Paso County last Friday evening, we are in the fourth full day of operationalizing mitigation plans. We continue to work closely with businesses and partners to prepare, educate, and successfully implement the changes reflected in this level. We have been aggressive in implementing these new restrictions, and want to allow sufficient time to adjust and evaluate how they are impacting our local numbers. We know that it takes time to move the needle, and our community deserves the opportunity to move our numbers in a positive direction before looking at moving to additional stringent restrictions. However, if we are not able to reverse the trend and bring our numbers down, we will be faced with more restrictions. It is not clear at this time whether we will be required to move to Level Red in the near future. 

What we do know is how the virus spreads, and what is needed to stop it. We are again calling on residents and urging them to double down on prevention measures by taking small steps: wear a mask properly, stay home when sick, wash hands frequently, gather only with members of your household, and practice social distancing.  

El Paso County Public Health is grateful to our partners at the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency ManagementThe City and County are consolidating their Offices of Emergency Management in an effort to optimize staff resources, establish a single point of contact during major incidences and enhance communication both during and after an event. The new office, the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management (PPR-OEM) will support operations during a disaster or emergency in El Paso County and Colorado Springs.Because disaster knows no jurisdictional boundaries, we can most efficiently prepare for an emergency and respond to one by coordinating our efforts on a regional basis. The establishment of the PPR-OEM will allow the county and the city to more effectively coordinate and assist first responders in an emergency as well as preparing the government and the community for a disaster., who have been in unified command with us since March. Public Health would further like to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of our dedicated staff, contractors, and volunteers for the countless hours spent fighting COVID-19. As a result of these efforts, we have established a low-barrier testing strategy for El Paso County, bringing COVID-19 testing sites to four additional locations in our county. These sites have provided more than 45,000 COVID-19 tests, at no charge to individuals seeking this service. Our team of disease experts responds tirelessly to positive cases and outbreaks 24 hours a day, seven days a week to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community.

A note from the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC
We understand that this is frustrating, especially as we approach the holidays. We get it and wish things were different, too. But the fact of the matter is our infection rates continue to rise and we need our number to go down in order to keep businesses open and prevent further restrictions. 

We can't stress this point enough: if we do not get our numbers down, we will move to more strict restrictions that will hurt our economy.

Our call to action:

  1. Implement plans for your team to telecommute for the rest of the year.
  2. Support restaurants and retailers by ordering takeout, curbside pick-up, and shopping online at local businesses this holiday season. Every purchase positively impacts businesses that desperately need the revenue right now.
  3. If your business is essential, evaluate your sick leave policy to ensure employees who do not feel well can and will stay home. If you aren't sure if your policy encourages this behavior, local resources, including Employers Council, can help.
  4. Normalize wearing a mask and following public health guidelines.

Share ways your organization is doing your part to flatten the curve on social media by participating in the region's #SmallActs campaign. Seeing the business community follow guidelines will help normalize best practices.


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